Scorched Earth | Verbrannte Erde (2024) Berlinale 2024

February 20th, 2024
Author: Meredith Taylor

Dir: Thomas Arslan | Cast: Mišel Matičević, Marie Leuenberger, Alexander Fehling, Tim Seyfi, Bilge Bingül | Germany 2024 | German, Subtitles: English | 101′

This simple but striking thriller takes us back to the film noir fare of the 1940s to show that crime doesn’t pay at the end of the day. But will our antihero still get the girl – or indeed – the booty?

Following In the Shadows, Scorched Earth is the second part of Thomas Arslan’s Trojan trilogy. It sees his career criminal – a morose Mišel Matičević – back in Berlin, and looking to finance his future with another gig. But Berlin has changed in the interim (a bit like the Berlinale itself) and his old contacts are faded and thin on the ground. And the digital world has rather taken over in place of brawn and suitcases full of cash.

Slick locations and some impressive chiaroscuro camerawork still make this gripping in an ‘old school’ way and the plot – revolving around the theft of a pricey painting – is compelling yet easy to follow and doesn’t take the easy way out. A solid little classically-styled thriller with a modern twist. @MeredithTaylor


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